Early recognition, evaluation and treatment may prevent blindness in giant cell arteritis

Jade S. Schiffman, Barbara Scherokman, Maria Lopez-Gurrola, Diego Marin, Rosa A. Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is a systemic vasculitis that can cause blindness in the elderly. GCA is a medical emergency since it frequently causes blindness if left untreated. Blindness can even occur in a small percentage of patients who undergo treatment. The etiology remains unknown. Presenting symptoms of GCA vary widely and visual manifestations are an extremely common mode of presentation. All physicians must have a high level of suspicion to diagnose and initiate early and aggressive treatment, which in most patients can arrest but rarely reverses the disease. Early and prolonged high-dose corticosteroids remain the cornerstone of GCA treatment. In symptomatic patients, the combination of abnormal levels of C-reactive protein in addition to Westergren erythrocyte sedimentation rate has 97% specificity in the laboratory diagnosis of GCA. The gold standard for diagnosis is the temporal artery biopsy, but biopsy-negative GCA cases have been reported.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-308
Number of pages10
JournalExpert Review of Ophthalmology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2007


  • anterior ischemic optic neuropathy
  • choroidal ischemia
  • giant cell arteritis
  • homonymous hemianopia
  • pulse steroid treatment
  • temporal artery biopsy
  • thrombocytosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Ophthalmology
  • Optometry


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